I’ve been seeing this sofa for several days in my regular drive down the alley toward my garage. It got me to wondering about all the sofas that get tossed and whether there were options to just dropping it into the local garbage mountain. One entry in my search engine “furniture in landfills” lead me directly to PLANETSAVE‘s website where writer Joanna writes in her 2011 entry that the EPA reports that in the United States we are putting annually 9.8 million tons of furniture into our landfills.
So I went to the EPA site, which offers a highly detailed report of our daily habits of garbage generation: on average, every individual in the US is generating a whopping 4.4 lbs of garbage per day! By contrast, our EU neighbors daily production of trash is 2.9 lbs. per day. A dubious distinction that is not in our favor. In its June 2015 report, the EPA stated that
“In 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons (U.S. short tons unless specified) of trash and recycled and composted over 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.3 percent recycling rate (see Figure 1 and Figure 2). On average, Americans recycled and composted 1.51 pounds out of our individual waste generation rate of 4.40 pounds per person per day.”
I am trying to be the change I want to see in the world by putting into my recycle bins every possible recyclable material that I can. All my grass clippings become mulch for my gardens. All my food scraps go into my circular composter, getting turned daily and then, each season it gets turned back into the garden soil. I do not purchase water in bottles, as that’s the best way to cut down on that material’s re-entry into our system. I now go to re-sale shops to purchase necessary items, and when I need a book I am purchasing used books on Amazon and Half.com. I still think I need to do more.
What responsible practices are you following to recycle, reuse, and otherwise cut back on the amount of trash you are generating? Looking for ideas? Joanna’s previously credited entry above includes the following helpful ideas for dealing with furniture you no longer want or need:
- Measure twice, buy once! Plan and organize your space ahead of time before purchasing furniture pieces in your home. When purchasing new furniture, always research the company’s environmental policies and their initiative in reducing waste. Check out IKEA’s CSR policy.
- Try to look for multiple-function furniture pieces like convertible sofas and futons. Having a guest bed and a sofa built into one piece of furniture helps save on important materials such as wood and reduces deforestation.
- There is plenty of usable “pre-owned” furniture available through Craigslist, Freecycleor even a garage sale!
- Use slipcovers to keep your existing furniture looking fresh and new to last you for years to come.
- Renew your chair by removing the seat and fabric — check to see if the foam is still usable (no mold) — and replace the fabric with new (preferably organic) fabric with a staple gun.
- Donate your good-condition furniture to those in need, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill.
- Check with your local curbside recycling program or Earth911.com to find a recycling location.
- Do you really need new furniture? Could readjusting your existing furniture make your room look brand new? Sometimes it just takes a little shifting around on your existing furniture to add a little splash in the design. Try switching furniture pieces from different rooms. A simple dining room table can be used as a desk, or a book shelf can be used with storage bins to store socks and clothes.